Learn about current legislation.

California Legislation Information Site: Bill Lookup ›

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Bills

AB 412: Courts: civil assessments

Requires courts to vacate a civil penalty if the defendant certifies that he or she had good cause to not appear or not pay a fine, or is unable to pay the assessment. See our Fines and Fees update (below) for more information.

AB 535: Jury Service

Ends the prohibition against people with felony convictions from serving on juries, except for people who have been convicted of certain crimes while in office.

AB 1008: The Fair Chance Act

Expands California’s Ban the Box law to include privateemployers. Specifies that employers may not inquire into a person’s conviction history until after a conditional offer of employment has been made. Clarifies the standards by which an employer may reject an applicant based on his or her conviction history.

SB 180: The RISE Act

The Repeal Ineffective Sentencing Enhancements (RISE) Act repeals sentence enhancements that add additional three-year terms of incarceration for certain prior drug convictions. It will not repeal sentence enhancements for some prior drug convictions involving minors.

SB 185: Driver’s License Suspensions

Prohibits license suspensions for failure to pay or appear in court for minor traffic tickets. Provides numerous remedies for low-income Californians to make amends for non-safety related driving convictions. See our Fines and Fees update (below) for more information.

Learn about ‘Ban the Box in Employment: A Grassroots History’ (2016)

Potential Bills

SB394 ›

SB 394 would bring California into compliance with the recent Montgomery U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held the mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) unconstitutional for individuals who were minors at the time of their criminal conviction.

Problem:

Resentencing hearings are time-consuming, expensive, and are subject to extended appeals. The Court offered an alternative to states: resentencing would not be required if a state provided the possibility of parole, citing Wyoming’s law as an example. There, juveniles sentenced to LWOP get a parole hearing after 22 years of incarceration. Other states, too, have chosen mandatory minimums or outright eliminated the LWOP sentence for minors. Twenty-two states have now limited the use of LWOP for juveniles. More states are exploring changes to their laws in light of the recent Montgomery decision.

California has already established a parole process for people who were children or young adults at the time of their crime that takes into consideration an individual’s youth. The process already exists and the population of juveniles who received LWOP, who are currently excluded, could be granted eligibility for a Youth Offender Parole hearing and bring California into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The possibility of parole does not mean release. The Supreme Court noted in Montgomery, “A State may remedy [this] violation by permitting juvenile homicide offenders to be considered for parole, rather than by resentencing them…Those prisoners who have shown an inability to reform will continue to serve life sentences.”

Solution:

SB 394 will remedy the now unconstitutional juvenile sentences of life without the possibility of parole. The bill would allow the approximate 290 juveniles with LWOP cases to be eligible for an initial parole hearing after 25 years of incarceration. There would be no guarantee of parole, only an opportunity for the person to work hard and try to earn the chance for parole.

SB 394 would streamline the process and bring California into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s most recent ruling by making juveniles sentenced to life without parole eligible under the state’s existing youth offender parole (SB 260/PC 3051) process. This would eliminate the need for the Montgomery and other resentencing hearings.

Contact – Megan Baier at (916) 651 4033

 

SB395 ›

SB 395 will require youth under the age of 18 to consult with legal counsel before they waive their constitutional rights.

Problem:

Our society recognizes that children are especially vulnerable in legal situations, which is why youth cannot buy alcohol and cigarettes or enter into legal contracts, yet our state’s laws do not recognize their diminished capacity to understand their Miranda rights. Other states have acknowledged the difference between youth and adults and passed laws providing safeguards for youth. Unfortunately, for juveniles in California, our justice system only provides Miranda rights in theory. In practice the system is flawed and can and does result in serious disproportionate negative consequences for youth who have the same rights as adults, but do not have the same capacity to understand their rights or the consequences of waiving them.

Solution:

SB 395 will require youth under 18 to consult with counsel prior to waving their rights. This will preserve youth’s constitutional rights and protect the integrity of our criminal justice system. This bill will bring California’s law in line with modern science. By ensuring youth understand their rights, we ensure the outcome of interrogations are just and lawful, and create greater trust, accountability, and due process for all.

Contact – Megan Baier at (916) 651 4033